In 1976 my family came to San Francisco where I promptly joined the Friends Meeting and got involved with AFSC's Simple Living program, staffed by David Hartsough. The program had just published a book "Who's in Charge", and I took on the task of promoting it, especially on college campuses. The idea of the book was for people to take charge of their own destinies by avoiding the corporate career ladder, aiming instead to focus on creating a more caring and just society. This idea well reflected the Quaker values I espoused verbally, but the experience of preparing these little promotional speeches forced me to distill the message into very short forms, and also required that I include illustrative stories from my own life. I didn't have much life experience at that time, so I had to reach back and connect with some of my parents' experiences, especially with my mother, who had been a refugee from Europe and left behind all her belongings. When I asked, she shared several stories about selecting only the most valuable objects and organizing them for maximum utility. I knew she did these things but had never known why.
These acts of focusing, reaching back, and digging deeper all set habits in my heart that I use to this day in speaking with individuals and teaching classes of students. I still evaluate my life activities in terms of whether I'm truly embodying my values, and I've been told that doing so has inspired others to do the same. Thanks, David!